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Author Topic: Enamelling copper  (Read 2063 times)
sidecar_jon
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« on: March 06, 2009, 09:59:21 pm »

Anyone any experience?. I've been given some enamelling powders of indeterminate manufacture. They were sent as samples to a local glass blower who gave then to me when i asked him about enamels (nice chap indeed). First i just tried them on plain copper, which went black, so i tried clear then colour, which went black. And more or less in desperation i tried using a flux (borax meant for silver soldering) which works, sort of anyway. Part of the problem is i am using a gas(propane) torch which "licks" round and ruins the edges. So my technique now is. Clean and degrease, Borax, sieved by tea strainer, then glass powder then heat, and followed by a clear glass powder over coating. The Borax powder often makes the glass powder bubble and go uneven, but it makes the copper bright underneath.... Any pointers?
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Khem Caigan
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2009, 01:59:29 am »

The heat of a torch in the open air is uneven,
and the copper surface is being oxidized/
blackened.

If you only want to do small pieces, you
can mix up some quick-n-dirty refractory
out of vermiculite/kitty litter < here are
the results from a quick Google :
http://tinyurl.com/cur8f6 > and coat the
inside of a coffee can, thus making your
own simple kiln - something like these :

http://tinyurl.com/7lq8fl

http://tinyurl.com/8z9qn

http://tinyurl.com/39ubsb

The FAQ on this page is a handy
reference :

Enameling FAQ
First Steps on Making an Enamel Image
in Copper
http://tinyurl.com/bvycml
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2009, 07:42:52 pm »

Ta very much...

I've done a few tests and find some of the effects of poor enamelling quite interesting, sort of aged and grungy! My main worry is, how to make things that don't entail solder as that would melt under enamelling or the enamel would discolour under soldering....
« Last Edit: March 08, 2009, 07:47:49 pm by sidecar_jon » Logged
OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2009, 11:31:50 pm »

You should be able to solder - with an iron - without affecting the enamel (obviously, on the un-enamelled side). It could get tricky in some cases, I suppose.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2009, 03:45:56 pm »

You should be able to solder - with an iron - without affecting the enamel (obviously, on the un-enamelled side). It could get tricky in some cases, I suppose.

Maybe but its hard to get the bigger copper bits up to temperature... i might have t use epoxy.
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OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2009, 07:50:48 pm »

True, it's hard to heat large pieces hot enough with a typical iron. A larger iron (~100w or more) might be called for. And of course, you'll want to pre-tin the pieces.

I'm not sure at what point this becomes infeasible. I imagine that the expansion of the heated metal could cause damage to the fused glass (cracking/flaking), but I don't really know. It's been nearly 50 years since I've worked with this, and always with small pieces. However, I believe I have a book or two - somewhere here - and if I should happen upon it, I'll see if there's anything helpful. At this time, my quarters are disgracefully disorganized.  Tongue
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2009, 08:57:10 pm »

If i was cleaver or reckless i might try to arrange a simultaneous enamel and silver solder type heat thing....
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OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2009, 09:52:35 pm »

If i was cleaver or reckless i might try to arrange a simultaneous enamel and silver solder type heat thing....

I've heard of something like that, but have no idea how it's done (very carefully, I imagine).
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2009, 09:57:38 pm »

If i was cleaver or reckless i might try to arrange a simultaneous enamel and silver solder type heat thing....

I've heard of something like that, but have no idea how it's done (very carefully, I imagine).


Clamps i think.....on the enamelling front ive just watched a Youtube film of "Frit" enamelling of a full sized bath, somewhere in eastern Europe, probably as it would be illegal anywhere with health and safety in existence!. Tomorrow i will try it as it does away with one problem, that of the Borax bubbling and spreading the glass into pools. "frit" is when you heat the object red hot and sprinkle the glass powder onto it as its heated.I predict problems with glass blowing the stuff away but it might be interesting.
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OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2009, 10:03:56 pm »

I always used a liquid flux, but can't remember what it was made of. Handy, because it tended to hold the glass powder in place when maneuvering it into the kiln.

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Khem Caigan
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2009, 11:23:52 pm »

Ta very much...

I've done a few tests and find some of the effects of poor enamelling quite interesting, sort of aged and grungy! My main worry is, how to make things that don't entail solder as that would melt under enamelling or the enamel would discolour under soldering....

If you can manage it, prepping your copper
pieces with folded tabs and then tapping and
screwing them together would be, I think, a
better way to go.

The copper wants to expand when hot, and
the enamel tends to delaminate/crack off.

Fold, tap, enamel, then bind together with
screws or tiny nuts/bolts.
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2009, 07:03:48 am »

What about tinning the back of the copper first, then enamelling the front? Then when you solder the piece to the other piece, whatever that is, assuming you have pretinned the other piece as well, you'll just be soldering solder to solder which I expect should require much less heat for a much shorter duration. (Did that make sense? It's late here...)
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2009, 08:14:17 pm »

What about tinning the back of the copper first, then enamelling the front? Then when you solder the piece to the other piece, whatever that is, assuming you have pretinned the other piece as well, you'll just be soldering solder to solder which I expect should require much less heat for a much shorter duration. (Did that make sense? It's late here...)

Wel maybe but red hot is red hot id say the difference in temperature isn't manageable with an open touch... might be wrong though. Screws etc might be the way to go , or rivets.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2009, 08:21:00 pm »

I always used a liquid flux, but can't remember what it was made of. Handy, because it tended to hold the glass powder in place when maneuvering it into the kiln.



I think most fluxes add up to Borax in some way or another. I use a liquid flux for soft soldering, i just had a jar of powder Borax hanging about from an unsuccessful attempt at silver soldering, so it tired it in desperation. Apparently its not all that usual to use a flux, most sites say clean the copper and put powder on. Or they use Gum Arabic to stick the powder down. I'm just playing it by ear and working it out in a way that works for me at the moment..

I can report that "frit" works well, especially if a thickness of glass is needed, however the flame does blow the glass away, so i ended up sprinkling on red hot copper without the torch under it, then quickly heating after the powder had landed. I tried "frit" on clean copper without Borax, and again it went black from corrosion under it.
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